Actual Play – Big Bad Outreach at UVA (9/29/2017)

GMs: Ezra Denney, Colin Fahrion, Beth Daggert, Matt Klein, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
Players: The kids at University Village at Albany (UVA)
System: Paranoia, D&D 5E, Ghost Lines, Parsley Games, and Ghost Court

It was a lot to wrangle but we did it. We ran five games for the kids at UVA… and we had a blast.

Pizza, games, kids, adults. A few ringers but mostly kids who had were playing for the first time… and oddly had requested larps! How cool.

Matts game ended up not firing off, but it worked out great as we needed someone to keep track in Action Castle!

We’re excited to do this again next year!

Here’s pics from the event:

Actual Play – Once Upon a Time In Ebberon – Part 7 (4/1/2015)

DnD_PHBTHGM: Brian Engard
Players: Rhea Friesen, Sam Simons, Andreas Stein, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeons & Dragons 5E
Setting: Ebberon

Last we left off we were on the way to Lathleer impersonating Ambassador Jorah of Riedra and her retinue.

On the Road Again

While we traveled some fun things happened.

Thorgal showed Dermis a thing or three about how to be a mercenary. Specifically how to hold a sword, how to wear armor, and how to talk like a mercenary. Dermis only failed to pick up 1 of the 3. I’ll let you guess which one.

Kabas and his crew sang lots and lots of traveling songs. Which annoyed Orbin a lot… so they sang more of them.

Raj ask one of his new guards who the package was being delivered to.  The destination was Imarin Cal, a Riedran Diplomat who runs the Riedra embassy in Lathleer. An important man but not an Inspired.

We all realized that were were walking the same speed as normal but traveling faster. Almost like we were walking on a people mover. Some fancy travel magic that!

Making Camp

We made camp. Dermis and Keer talked about why an embassy would be way out in the middle of nowhere Lathleer. Dermis only spoke when Keer was busy chewing his food so as to make sure he never interrupted. Keer noticed this and modulated the rate of his mastication to see if it would control Dermis’ speech tempo. It did. Meanwhile one of our new guards was conspicuously not looking at us, as he was listening very intently. Keer noticed. Dermis noticed Keer’s chewing.

That night… of in the darkness we heard a chorus of wild yips and then they were upon us. Gnolls and hyenas! We stabbed them in lots of ways. In the back, through an eye, to a wagon, in the back again, with our sacred fire, our swords, and our bows. Yay stabbing!

After the fight Orbin woke up screaming (he was put to sleep along with two hyenas that were dragging him off) by a sleep spell.

Kabas thanked us and refunded us our payment for the journey as thanks for our help.

A Tiny Town

Lathleer was even less impressive than we imagined it would be. A farmer’s market where Störm bought a flute and not a whole lot more else.

Dermis asked one of the guards what was going on here and why Lathleer would have an embassy. He got a practiced and rote response, one that Keer could tell was a lie. Keer pressed and we got more out of him.

The man was Jorah’s second and as such knew what she was doing, which was shipping these warforged sleeper agents from Lathleer to every major city in Khorvaire. He knew about the Warforged as well, they could create illusions to make them look line anyone or anything. This is a full fledged infiltration of every known nation!

This knowledge if handled properly could either unify the still often hostile nations of Khorvaire together against a common enemy…or it could turn them all on each other, each of them suspicious of the other. The latter would make a worldwide coup just a matter of patience for the Inspired.

Ohh… and we know Jorah will reform and she might find a host closer than Riedra. We’re working on borrowed time!

Thoughts on the game

It’s going to take some time for us to spend 12 Awesome Points each. Getting them is relatively easy. Spending is the tough part. I think I’m going to start spending on every roll!

This conspiracy is huge. Feels very much like an epic D&D campaign!


Actual Play – Once Upon a Time In Ebberon – Part 6 (2/18/2015)

DnD_PHBTHGM: Brian Engard
Players: Rhea Friesen, Sam Simons, Andreas Stein, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeons & Dragons 5E
Setting: Ebberon

Tis the season for sickness. It the flu isn’t hitting one of us, it’s getting the other. Brian was well for this game but Morgan was fighging off some con crud from OrcCon, and couldn’t make it.

Everything is Awesome

In preparation for the Awesome Points mechanic [1] Brian had us all jump up to level 4. Oooh baby, feats or ability score increases! I opted for Keen Senses for Dermis, as I liked the idea of their internal bio-metrics being able to tell us things like the exact time, recalling information, and knowing direction. Also, it comes with an Intelligence bump. Woot!

We started the game and spent a bit of time with everyone getting hit points, new abilities, and more spells. Fun times!

Hot Boxing

Prepared to stow away in the crate of Warforged, after some deliberation we all piled into the crate, had Keer and Vathra board us back up and then waited. And waited. And waited.

While we Dermis had some more time to inspect the warforged and noticed they had no makers mark but that they were all identical so they must have been made in a creation forge, though not necessarily by someone from House Cannith.

Fieri got really bored and lit up a pipe. Smoking out everyone who breathed inside the box and getting most of them a little high!

Störm spoke some of her captivity frozen in stone. Dermis asked her to tell them about it, and it sounded very sad. 200 years of waiting to be released, only semi conscious of the passage of time.

Pretty inebriated by now Fieri just started saying the word “crate” over and over again. Fascinated by the sound.

TEN HOURS LATER… we heard the voice of a woman saying “Inspect the crates. Make sure they haven’t been tampered with.” We tried to stay very quiet but Fieri started laughing. Dermis asked politely if they could cast a sleep spell on Fieri but the gig was up. In a panic Dermis cast the spell, which knocked her out as well as a few guards just outside the crate. Oh crap, we blew it.

They started tearing the crate apart but before they did Dermis cast invisibility on Raj.

When it was opened, the guards were standing their with crossbows trained on us. Thorgul was standing over Fieri protecting her. Dermis was hiding among the other warforged that had gotten knocked over. The dragonborn were in plain sight.

The woman leading the guards looked to be of unnatural beauty. While they just wanted for us to stand down, she seemed intent on killing us, or possibly, capturing, torturing, and then killing us. Störm attempted negotiations, which failed to improve her mood, but did give Raj time to slip behind her with a dagger to her throat (we’ve seen this before).

Fighting the Inspired

The beautiful woman looked derisively down at the dagger touching her throat and said without flinching “You know the standard protocol”. As Raj went to cut her throat all of the guards turned their crossbows and fired on him! Some of them hitting her but not caring!

A fight broke out. Störm dove in with her sword, Agron fired her bow, Raj fought dirty with his dagger, and Dermis used offensive magic! I like to think in retrospect it was because they subconsciously realized they were fighting an Inspired, who’s very existence is an abomination in Dermis’ eyes.

Some of the guards died, but Agron was able to bandage up some of them, and from those who lived we gathered information.

  • The woman’s name was Ambassador Jorah of Riedra, she was an inspired, revered by the people of Riedra.
  • She hired the guards to take the crates to Lathleer.
  • The Inspired have mortal vessels “grown” and prepared for inhabitation.

Loot taken from the fight

  • Potion of Healing
  • Silk gloves (25gp)
  • A fine rapier (25gp)
  • Cap made of rabbit fur (25gp)
  • Cloak trimmed in rabbit fur (25gp)

How to chase down the goods

Raj is going to impersonate Jorah, the living guard are going have been hired to accompany us, and WE’RE going to deliver the package.

We joined a merchant caravan led by the goblin Kasbus, his good friend and life coach Asara (and acolyte of the silver flame). The crew consists of humans, elves, a tiefling, bugbears, and an orc.

Along with us is also Orbin, the merchant we met on the airship.

Thoughts on this Game

[1] Awesome Points Rule. I’m pretty excited to see how this plays out.

At the start of a session, there are a bunch of Awesome Points in a bowl in the center of the table. This number is 2x the number of players, so it’d be 10 in our game. Any time someone does something awesome, anyone in the game can reach into the bowl and hand that person an Awesome Point. There’s no limit to how many you can have, or to how many people can hand you one at once, and you can earn Awesome points from an action in which you spent Awesome Points.

But, when the bowl runs dry, it’s dry.

I start with a stack of Awesome Points, which I can spend to pull bullshit on you guys. Basically, I do something nasty to you, I throw some Points in the bowl. When you spend Points, they go to my stack. Circle of life.

You spend Awesome Points to do Awesome Things. We can have some fun with this at the table, but a baseline would be:

  • 1 Awesome Point to get advantage on a roll.
  • 2 Awesome Points to have some convenient coincidence provide you with something cool to do.
  • 3 Awesome Points to use an ability you’ve already burned up for the day/short rest/whatever.
  • 4 Awesome Points to make up an NPC or a plot detail on the spot.

Here’s the really, really awesome thing about Awesome Points: once everyone in the party has spent 12 Awesome Points apiece, everyone levels. Boom.

I’m not sure if Brian picked the Inspired as an enemy with a warforged in mind, but I gotta say, the idea of an artificial (yet sentient) construct who reveres organic lifeform seeing a astral incorporeal creature that wears people like meat suits, is pretty damn awesome. Like, there aren’t a lot of things that are abhorrent to Dermis but THIS is one of them!

I wonder what Orbin is up to. Somehow I don’t think it’s coincidence that he keeps on ending up traveling with us. Should be fun to find out.

Quote of the night: “The inspired vessels are engineered to have a fierce beauty, like a fucking tiger!”

Actual Play – Once Upon a Time In Ebberon – Part 5 (1/14/2015)

DnD_PHBTHGM: Brian Engard
Players: Rhea Friesen, Sam Simons, Morgan Ellis, Andreas Stein, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeons & Dragons 5E
Setting: Ebberon

We’ve had a change up of cast. Exit Doona and her entourage and enter Argon and Störm.  Two dragonborn with very different pasts. One of them generated by Who the Fuck is My D&D Character. A princess from 200 years ago turned to stone by a sorcerer named Lady Vol and just awakened. Cool!

We also decided to try out some NPC hireling rules that Brian made.  Since the game, they have been published over on Kobold Press! I was excited to try them out.

Arrival at Fairhaven – assembling   our party

Upon arrival a messenger arrived for lady Doona, insisting that she return home at once to tend to family business. At the same time another messenger arrived with a letter from lord Rukan that he had two associate we should meet up with and that we could find them at the local Rose Flagon inn. After some a bit of “How do you do?” and some “What is he?” and the usual “Oh, no, I don’t claim a gender but I would be happy to serve in any way I can.” and a bit of “Charmed, I’m sure”, we were once again a party of adventurers!

But wait, we traveled with the remarkable Fieri and Thurgul who certainly had talents of their own. As Fieri wanted to see the world and Thurgul was paid to protect her, it was easy to convince them to come with us. And look, we even had rules for them as Hirelings! Fieri is a Mage, Thurgul a Bodyguard.

Investigating the shipment of Warforged

Keer was quick on the draw, and asked the harbormaster captain Vathra d’Lyrandar and her ship the Stormchaser. Good new it was still in port! The harbormaster would not be more specific, but gave us a place to start.

From there Dermis used  their divination to Locate Objects. As Warforged would not normally appear as objects, these particular “inert” warforged would be distinguished from any others that might be in Fairhaven, and of course from Dermis themselves. Levitating a lodestone in their palm and walking about the harbor with the protection of their friend, Dermis was eventually able to locate the crates… just in time to see them being offloaded.

Getting closer led to some unwanted attention. A group of sailors stopped us and asked in the kind of “we just want an excuse to club you and take your money” way what we were doing snooping around Vathra ship. Dermis of course said the truth… that we were looking for the warforged she was transporting.

The sailors bristled but Keer saved the day with his charm and wit, saying that yes, we did want to meet with their captain, and if they could just point the way, we would go to her now with and offer. The directed us to the Cat’s Cradle. Wonderful. What could go wrong.

Who is ambushing who here?

The Cat’s Cradle is in the bad part of Fairhaven. All the seedy things that need a home, they find it there.

Raj and Störm entered as an enterprising couple, looking for Vathra to move good for them. Dermis cast an invisibility spell on Keer and he scouted the area for threats, of which there were plenty.  Dermis and Argon waited outside consorting with the locals like very out of place tourists in a place tourists shouldn’t go!

Vathra told Raj and Störm they could talk about transporting cargo elsewhere. She led them several blocks away with Keer on their heels and Dermis and Argon keeping a safe distance. Once they were in the ally she whistled and black clad men dropped from above onto the street. The were armed and ready for a fight. Cue fight scene…

…or not. Keer who had been watching from close by snuck up, still invisible, to Vathra and put his dagger to her throat. As he came into view and gave her some pretty obvious options, she told her good squad to stand down. It was tentative though, it still seemed like she had some fight in her. Keer’s knife however, gave her a reason to hear out Raj, who told him her we weren’t after her, we just wanted to know about her supplier Hans.

The conversation ended in “Oh, yeah, I’m not real keen on working for him either. Let’s be friends!” Or at least that is how it sounded through the filter of Dermis’ optimism and faith in organics life.

Warehouse full of Wonder

Vathra told us that she didn’t like working for Hans, but that he was a scary dude she didn’t want to cross. She also said that his family operates the lightning rail, so it doesn’t exactly match up with why he would have it blow up.

If we could help her get work elsewhere she’d be grateful. She has been doing for moths already though. Delivering crates of Warforged to a warehouse, and every time she comes back the warehouse is emptied out, but someone else.

She took us to the location. we cracked open the crates and sure enough, a dozen warforged just like Dermis… only not quite. They had several enhancements. A massive gem built into their abdomen that appeared to be a receptacle for an incorporeal creature, spells woven into them to make them strong, faster, stealthier, and resistant to magic. The one thing they didn’t have was an animating spirit, the spark of life that made warforged alive.

Communing with the Elders

In order to understand these creations better, Dermis asked Fieri about her communion with the dead. How it worked, and if it would be possible to summon one of them to occupy one of these mechanical husks.  She was game to give it a try!

A few rare hallucinogenic herbs and spices, a goat to sacrifice, several hours of chanting later, and a ritual we all took part of and the spirit was upon us. For Störm the ancestor was pleasant and refined, like a reunion of old friends. For Dermis, she was full of fury, fighting against the remnant of Lady Vol that still was inside them. When the ritual was complete the ancestor spirit entered the gem and the creature came alive. This is what we learned:

  • The machine is intended for an astral spirit
  • It is warded against magic.
  • It’s from an unknown origin
  • It has some illusionary capabilities
  • It’s only weakness is if the crystal network is destroyed, however most of that is embedded deep in the core of the creature.

When the spirit left, we stood there wondering what to do now. The Quori were building an army. No more weak flesh suits, these machines would give them power beyond our ken!

Thoughts on the game

A major strength of Brian’s games is that he isn’t married to a resolution. He’s got a big enough conspiracy going on that it doesn’t really matter what part of it we start with or how quickly we learn about it. Perhaps were moving at the pace he expected, but no matter what he’s done a great job of keeping every unfolding piece of this puzzle exciting and intriguing. We want to know answers to lots of questions, and have enough leads that we can follow up on at least most of them. We also know there is an impending doom of sorts if we don’t act fast.

I can see this game quickly becoming political, which would be fun. Like, at some point we should tell someone about all of this. One of the Houses? The Kalashtar? The Lord Mayor or Council of Sharn? The allies of Lady Vol? I see lots of possibilities.

When we were first introducing the new characters I asked Rhea if Störm sorcerer nemesis could have been Lady Vol (she’s certainly been around long enough) and she went for it. Yay, characters connected in complicated ways.

I don’t think the intangibles (personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws) are as powerful as I hoped they would be. When I saw them and the inspiration mechanic I hoped they would be guiding principles for our characters like Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits in Burning Wheel. Mostly though they seem to encourage a shtick (I’m the naive one, I’m the charming one, I’m the suspicious one) rather than drive play.  Brian changed the rule that we can get more than one inspiration per session (but that they are all lost at the end of the session) to try and encourage us to hit more of them, but I still wasn’t feeling the immediacy of them that I’d like. I think in part because by design D&D is supposed to be about the adventure your DM provides you and not about the character’s goals. But that’s a longer discussion…

XP: We gained 450 XP from two encounters. New total is 1575. Halfway to 4th level!

Actual Play – Once Upon a Time In Ebberon – Part 4 (12/10/2014)

DnD_PHBTHGM: Brian Engard
Players: Anna Meade, Morgan Ellis, Andreas Stein, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeons & Dragons 5E
Setting: Ebberon

To Aundair with all haste! Based on the discovery made last session we decided to head out to Aundair in an attempt to intercept (or at least catch up with) the cargo or Vartha’s ship.

Duke Rokun secured us passage on an airship to Freehaven (the capital city) and we planned to set out in the morning. Before that however we spoke again with Vorrin D’Cannith and asked him for any leads he could give us once we arrived. He told use that the Aundair faction of the house Cannith was lead by Baroness Jorlana D’Cannith and that she was probably the first person we should investigate. He told us a contact we could meet up with (Rhonda D’Cannith) but that we could not use his name except in her presence. Otherwise we would compromise his position.

The “Second best airship of House Lyrandar” was captained by Jovak Deltranar and his jovial crew. They claimed to be the second best because claiming to be the best always invited so much trouble. Of course Jovak couldn’t claim to be the fastest, because the Lyrandar was the fastest, etc.

He was however ,quite easy to goad into speeding up the trip, traveling faster and taking a more direct (and dangerous) route by a few subtle barbs from Raj.

Interesting folk on board

While Dermis and Raj spoke with the captain, Keer and Doona conversed with the other occupants of the ship.

AirshipWe met Orbin, an curmudgeonly merchant who was faring goods to and from Freehaven and annoyed an the need to take an airship (and pay the extra expense to do so) since the Lightning Rail had not yet been repaired. When Raj spoke with him later and he made it very clear that he didn’t like adventurers, they just caused trouble.

Keer met Firi, the Ereni elf on a pilgrimage. She had a cultural heritage of summoning dead ancestors that they revered to posses them, which was odd but she did not speak on it much.

Doona gambled and drank with the crew who revealed that Jovak (“Joe”) was a complete pirate and though he fared passengers and goods on occasion that was just as cover. They also said that Orbin was a jerk with strange proclivities. They probably would have said more as well, if not for the DRAGON ATTACK!

Dragon Attack!

Hell yeah, 3rd level (oh yeah, we got to level 3) and we faced a dragon. A green dragon it this case, dropping nets filled with kobolds onto the ship. Woot! We had kobold raiders, we had flying dragons and we had harpoons! What more could a D&D player ask for!

The fight wasn’t too tough (I think because Brian had some bad rolls) and we quickly dispatched the kobolds and then concentrated on the dragon who Doona finished off.

Dermis, having the utmost respect for all organic life did not want to simply murder the kobolds that they had put to sleep (5d8 hit points of Kobolds is a lot of kobolds!) and so convinced the crew to let them live… if they would show us where the dragon’s horde was!

From it we claimed:

  • 9 gems worth 5o gold.
  • 2100 copper pieces
  • 1200 silver pieces
  • 50 gold pieces

Baby dragon horde!

Thoughts on this game

The fact that we could fight a dragon at 3rd level was awesome. I understand GMs that want to keep the iconic monsters like dragons and mind flayers out of the picture till higher levels to keep them feeling epic, but for me, I want the awesome action right now. And their isn’t much more awesome than fighting a dragon on top of an airship!  Not sure how much of this was 5E and how much was Brian, but I loved it!

I know we’re going to Freehaven and all, but I kind of want to know about Obrin’s peculiar proclivities and get in on some of Joe’s piracy action. Oh yeah, and maybe ask around some about my Lady’s whereabouts. Also the Ereni are fascinating. I didn’t talk to Firi during the session, but Dermis is super captivated by the idea of summoning a spirit to possess you since that is essentially their purpose, to be receptacle for the reborn Lady Vol.

Actual Play – Once Upon a Time In Ebberon – Part 3 (11/12/2014)

DnD_PHBTHGM: Brian Engard
Players: Anna Meade, Morgan Ellis, Andreas Stein, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeons & Dragons 5E
Setting: Ebberon

I missed session two, busy getting married and all, so if you’re keen to find out the intimate details of the game, you’ll have to pry them from Morgans white knuckled grip. Or murder Brian and cast speak with dead to summon his spirit and charge him to tell you the account. There were bits about riding sky vessels, investigating Gorum Trull’s, Dalin Robart who works at Morgraine Unniversity, and a lead on Vorrin D’ Cannith. Keer had also met with Sellers, his mentor in the inquisitive and found out that Sellers was the one put in charge of finding and arresting us!

Second Level – Yay Powers

After two sessions we were 2nd level and now had some new powers to choose from. I quite like that 5E keeps the changes between level pretty small. At 2nd level all we got were some more hit points and a class power. In the case of spellcasters we got a couple more spells as well, but even for a wizard, the leveling process was pretty straightforward.

As Dermis, my warforged wizard owned by the late Lady Vol has but one desire to find his mistress and resurrect her, I opted to have him focus on divination. Necromancy would have been another good choice (she is a lich afterall) but I figured it would more be about finding the body and rejoining it with the phylactery (me) than about doing actual necromancy. Anywho, the divination 2nd level power is pretty cool. At the start of the day roll two d20 and record their values. Later, before a roll is made (by anyone the Wizard can see) they can replace the roll with one of those two numbers. Pretty damn slick.

Two Encounters that led into one.

We split up. Keer and Raj investigating some of the dragonmark houses that are entangled with our former patrons turned indicters. They learned from
Emerion D’cannith that Vorrin D’ Cannith was involved, but when they found him he had never heard of Emerion, nor knew what she was talking about. He did thell them however that House Cannith was divided. Three prominent families (from three regions) were at odds with each other, specifically the Aundarians and the Brellish factions.

Meanwhile Dermis and Doona went back to the Rose Flagon in an attempt to get information out of Hetty. This was a great point where I, as a player, was confused about what was going on, so my ability to play Dermis as clueless to social graces (Charisma 10) was spot on! Doona dropped a note we had found to Hetty in an attempt to intimidate her.

Letter to Hetty

The reaction we got was… not good. Hetty had her goons escort us into the back office, where presumably she was going to do bad things to us and then Dermis cast Charm Person on her.

Brian made the saving throw, and succeeded. Then he asked (in Fate Core fashion) would you like to succeed at a cost? Hell yes I would!

So the spell worked, Hetty was charmed and said that Hans’ shipment had come from Karnoth, stopped in Sharn, and was was going to Aundair and that it contained a whole shipment of Warforged! Somehow deactivated (or never completed) Warforged! Then the spell wore off and violence ensued!


We fled into the market and had a merry chase leaping on carts going by and dodging Hetty’s goons until at last they trapped us. Thankfully that was just when Keer and Raj were coming back to check on us. Together we defeated the goons (tough as they might be) but were picked up by the town guard who wanted to know what was going on.

We all (goons included) had some guilty looks on our faces as none of us really wanted to tell the guard what we were up to. We were escorted back to the Rose Flagon and with the note to Hetty as well as a search of the inn performed by Sellers, our friend assigned to capture us, it was made clear that Hetty was connected with the folks that blew up the lightning rail and that we were innocent. Our names were cleared, huzzah!


Just when we thought the big action was done Emerion D’cannith appeared looking less “real” than she had before. The lines of her face were blurred, out of focus, like she wasn’t completely “here”. We learned of her arrival when an invisible crossbow bolt that nearly killed Sellers. She was a crafty foe but we defeated her. When she died her body collapsed not like that of a living person, but more like something that was wearing a person suit and now that suit fell to the ground deflated.

After the fight and some healing potions, Sellers revealed that he was actually named Harcop and that he is a Kalashtar. The creature we fought was not Emerion D’cannith but one of the Inspired, mortal vessels for the sinister Quori. The two races have been at war, dreams vs. nightmares, for control over Adar… and we just got in the middle of that war. Now we were marked and the Quori were relentless foes. Sellers, or Harcop told us it was not our fight, but if we wanted to aid him and the Kalashtar, he would give us all the support he could muster.

Oh yeah, nightmare creatures from another realm, bring it on!

Thoughts on the game

5th continues to be fun. Combat was quick and simple and there was no sense that a battle map was ever needed. I don’t know much about the other classes yet but it seems like they all have some cool abilities. The paladin’s smite and the thief’s sneak attack were both cool.

Though free of blame, we now found ourselves embroiled in deeper plots (NOOICE!). Brian has done an awesome job of bringing Ebberon to life and making our characters part of larger machinations.

Here’s the follow up email with our choices of what to do next:

Options for continuing adventures:

In Sharn, you have a few loose ends you can tie up if you like. Raj reported to Lord Rukan, so that’s done. The watch is out of your hair. The Lightning Rail is still down. Keer should probably talk to Voren d’Cannith, but that could easily be handled during downtime.

Keer’s interested in finding out more about Bishop Avraden. There’s also Professor Robard at Morgrave University. Vathra d’Lyrandar was a lead, but she’s flown the coop. Which brings me to…

Breland’s uneasy almost-neighbor to the north, Aundair is pastoral and beautiful. Vathra d’Lyrandar flew her ship full of cargo (including those warforged shells) somewhere in Audair; you’ll probably want to find out where at some point if you want to try to catch up to her. This one’s somewhat time-sensitive in that she’ll move on if you don’t act quickly, but she’s part of a smuggling operation so she’ll make the circuit again at some point (though it’ll be more secretive and closely guarded, now that Hetty’s been found out).

If you go to Aundair, expect intrigue with the Dragonmarked Houses and various political factions in that region, and maybe some travel and wilderness encounters.

To the north-east, across the Mournland, is Karrnath. Hans d’Orien, Hetty’s supplier, lives there, in Atur, the City of Night. The road to Karrnath is long and dangerous, but Hans might be able to give you some good information.

If you go to Karrnath, expect more intrigue, and probably a lot of undead and death cultists. It’s that kind of place. It should be noted also that Karrnath contains a high percentage of Khorvaire’s worshippers of the Blood of Vol, the religion founded by Dermis’ erstwhile mistress.

Butting right up against Breland’s northern border, Thrane is a military theocracy led by High Cardinal Krozen. It’s also where Goren Trall, the money man, lives. The Church of the Silver Flame is the state religion there, and while most Flame-worshippers are good people who believe in justice, kindness, and protecting others, there are those who follow the more extreme elements of the religion. Inquisitions and purges are a part of the Silver Flame’s history.

If you go to Thrane, expect to deal with the clergy a lot, expect knights and zealots, and expect to be frequently looked upon with suspicion. If they learn that Raj is a changeling, they will be immediately suspicious. If they learn that Dermis is a lich’s phylactery… well, let’s just say that the Church of the Silver Flame and the Blood of Vol are not on the best of terms.

Actual Play – Once Upon a Time In Ebberon – Part 1 (10/8/2014)

DnD_PHBTHGM: Brian Engard
Players: Anna Meade, Morgan Ellis, Andreas Stein, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeons & Dragons 5E
Setting: Ebberon

It started with a tweet…

Actually this totally wasn’t the original tweet, but I scrolled for 10 minutes and didn’t find it, so we’ll call that the original. Brian asked if folks wanted to play a little 5E. I hadn’t checked it out yet (except for looking at an early Next Playtest forever ago) so I was eager to give it a shot. Once he mentioned that it would be in Ebberon I was totally sold. I’ve loved that setting since I first saw it in 2004 but never got a chance to play a campaign game in it.

It’s good to follow @Zelgadas

Our Cast

Doona of Clan Danki – A noble dwarf bucking tradition and making a name for herself. She refuses the title “lady” and is more at home with her axe Bertha, and the hammer she carries in her boot, than with the gentry. Despite her gruff nature, Doona has remarkable intellect and assumes (usually correctly) that she is the smartest person in the room. Doona is accompanied by Dane of Clan Dankil her squire, Arlis Stonegutter her major domo, and Bertha Ramsbottom her lady-in-waiting.

Dermis, a faithful servant of their master Lady Vol, now accompanies new companions. Dermis is quite skilled in penmanship, ancient histories, and has a keen mind for putting details together. What’s better is that Dermis is always deferential to natural life forms, as a dutiful child would be to their elders. Having just picked up the dusty tombs from Lady Vol’s Fist Athenaeum, Dermis is a self taught wizard. Dermis seeks to prepare their self to be a great vessel that Lady Vol may one day be reborn in.

Keer Thorn is a Sharn native and comes from a poor and crime-ridden section of the city. When he was a boy he was employed as a messenger and runner for his uncle a local gang boss. But he was rescued from all that when his remarkable powers of observation and memory were recognized by a well known Inquisitive, and he was taken off the streets and apprenticed to a Cleric of Aureon who was one of the main archivists at the City Archive. In his studies at the university he discover some alarming irregularities in his mentor’s old papers. It seems as though there was a connection between her and the Dark Lanterns. Could they be behind it? Could some foreign power? Who was his mentor really working for?

Raj is an elf who dresses herself in assassin’s garbs. Or is his he the young human son of Lord Rukan? Nobody knows. The entity we travel with however is a changeling equally adept at subterfuge and skulduggery. Ninja!

Our predicament

We were set up! After taking a job for some shady individuals, we realized the fruiting of the work would be the destruction of the lightning rail. Collectively we refused the job, but we were too far in and instead of the deft hand of evil, we became it’s scapegoats!

The adventure started with a chase. Having just learned of the plans to destroy the lightning rail (and to pin it on us!) we raced to the scene of the crime and fought off the less morally minded bandits! By the strength of Doona’s axe, might of Keer’s faith, arcane enchantments of Dermis, and the silent blade of Raj all were dispatched. All save the leader of the bandits, who having planted the bomb, made off in haste!


We were thrown by the blast. Our ears rung, our vision blurred, when we came to our senses we could already hear the shouts of the guards. With alacrity we traversed the city streets and escaped them, but not without our identities being perceived by the authorities. One among us, the unknown Raj, offered us safe transport if we would meet only read a proposal from Raj’s benefactor. We gladly concented and read by lantern light as our coach sped away from the from.

Letter from Lord Rukan

A new offer on the table

Once coach ride later and we arrived at the estate of Lord Rukan and were escorted by Raj through servants passages so as not to disturb those slumbering within.

Lord Rukan himself was awake, and greeted us kindly. He had Josie, a member of House Jorasco, the healers guild on hand to mend our wounds at his expense, though she was fastidious to gain our connect before applying any magics to us. Rukan also offered us what refreshments he could. As indicated in his missive, Lord Rukan sought to ally with us in the purpose of uncovering who it was that destroyed the Lightning Rail in Sharn and their motives!

With little deliberation we raised our glasses to our new benefactor and committed to this solemn task, and it was beneficent to all.

The inquiry begins

Now wanted criminals we attempted to keep our profiles low when visiting the Rose Flagon, a tavern often frequented by the dwarf Birri, who had first given us the job. Birri, alarmed at our presence – perhaps he thought we would have been apprehended – made haste to depart upon appraising our visage. The ever watchful Keer however, tracked him down through ally and portal, even through a complete change of his person. Instead of spotting Birri the dwarf, Keer perchanced upon an elf in his clothes. Birri was a changeling as well! The elf tried to dissuade Keers interrogation but the Inquisitive’s mind was too keen, and soon all as laid plain.

Birri told us what he knew, which to our great dissatisfaction was very little. He had received a sending stone with information and payment from Voren d’Cannith, no more! What Birri could reveal, in an anecdotal fashion however, was that the destruction of the Lighting Rail would be good fortune for House Canntith, the Maker’s Guild. The house had created Warforged as well as many magical and mundane items in the past, but now their power waned. A disruption in trade would create more demand for their goods. Also, the house was fractured and different families within were often at odds. The Brelish branch in particular frequented illicit opportunities for the trade of arms.

Of note, we also caught the attention from some of the locals. Hetty, the halfling proprietor of the Rose Flagon and member of the Hostelers guild was keenly interested in us causing no trouble in her place.

So Doona deigned to fabricate extramural incidents in the form of throwing a dagger at the fleeing Birri. When it missed and struck a commoner, Thurgel of the banker’s guild, trouble was indeed upon us. Dermis elected the use of arcane eloquence to win over, if temporarily, the favor of Thurgel and took the newfound friend to the healer’s guild where his injury was healed, his clothes cleaned and repaired, and missives sent to his workplace indicating his tardiness. All told he spend 15 gold for the services, which Dermis sincerely hopes to repay in the future!

House Sivis, Purveyors of Postal Services

To inquire more of our intercessor, we ventured to House Sivis, where all sending stones passed trough. We posed several queries to the gnome officer of House Sivis, but our manner was to blunt by far and we were quickly admonished by the scribe for our ignominious rhetoric.

Raj, ever inscrutable, split from our company and by the powers of his races innate magic, returned as a town guard. He entered House Sivis inquiring into a motley group that might have been asking after a lockbox owned by a member of the Dragonmarked Houses. When his suspicions where confirmed he declared that it was critical that he inspect the box in case any of it’s contents were missing!

The contents of the box were only a small pouch of coins and a sending stone which imparted certain knowledge that while delightful, could not be confirmed. The stone conveyed a visage of Voren, a man with red hair, as well as his locale, an enchantment foundry in the lower parts of the city.

Another lead gained by ingenuity removed our present perturbation and illuminated a new path towards our communal exoneration.

Thoughts on this game

First off, some love for 5th edition. I’m very excited that we never had call for miniature or map. Especially in online gaming, minis and battle maps are the mind killer. Not only does tactical combat slow everything down but it presents one more focal point to draw us to our combat stats and away from things like goal, bonds, and ideals. So yay, no maps!

Inspiration by dint of roleplaying your flaws, beliefs etc. is a good step in the right direction, but it’s a binary currency. You either have it or you don’t, you can’t gain “more”. And gaining it doesn’t have any bearing on the source it came from. For instance if you have a goal to become one of the kings archers and you enter an archer contest to prove yourself, you would likely gain inspiration. However, there isn’t a part o the game that says now reflect on your goal and determine if should change. In effect it feels like it’s scraping the surfaces of Burning Wheel beliefs, but not going far enough.

We skipped over the “you met in a tavern” section of the game, assuming we were all working as mercenaries from the start. I like the expediency that provided, but I think the game could stand for some reflection (as we do at start of session, see future AP reports on this game) where we talk some about ourselves, and how we got where we were. Like, Dermis, I can’t really imagine why they would become a mercenary. Unless something really needed the money quickly…perhaps a portion of Lady Vol’s manor falling into disrepair, or worse, a lean on it coming due!

Brian has a really good knowledge of Ebberon, which has enriched the setting incredibly. It’s important to know how lightning rails work, which house presides over which function, and what the political landscape of Sharn is, if you want to create an unfolding conspiracy. Brian is aces at that!

If you can’t tell, I just read a lot of Jack Vance before writing this post. Hence all the unnecessary two dollar words. I like to think that Dermis expresses themselves with eloquence and grace but in play my own personal lack of sophisticated vocabulary reduces my of exchanges to plebeian vernacular.

At some point it came to light that during the night while all others are sleeping, Dermis un-braids Doona’s hair, brushes it, and re-braids it. That crazy oddity was the most “Dermis” I portrayed that entire game. Doona of course does not know this, but Arlis greatly approves!